Japan Times contributor Jon Mitchell, who for years has covered the alleged existence of the toxic defoliant Agent Orange on Okinawa and issues surrounding U.S. military bases there, was among the winners of the first annual Freedom of the Press awards at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.

"It is a great honor to receive this award," Mitchell said in an email message Monday. "All too often international and domestic media ignore how the U.S. and Japanese governments trample on human rights on Okinawa."

The FCCJ launched the awards to recognize journalists whose work has defended free speech, open society and democratic accountability as reporters and publications face an uphill battle to uphold press freedoms in Japan. They were announced on Sunday — World Press Freedom Day.